“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:12-13
There’s much I don’t understand in this world. I have my faith. Sometimes that’s all I have.
This is a part of my testimony. God’s Grace supporting me through the darkest times in my life. I will just list three here as I have limited space and a long story. Perhaps there’s a book in there, but when I meet people for the first time they tend to think I’m exaggerating until they get to know me better and realize I don’t do that.
I don’t need to.
The first incident actually led to me accepting Christ as my saviour. It was one of the most traumatic events any child can experience. On February 20th 1985 my brother and I had an argument. I was 12 and he was 9. Nothing unusual about that. The last words I said to him that day were “You’re dead when I get home” and I stormed off to meet a friend.
Three hours later, Robin was killed in a road accident. By all accounts, and knowing him the way I did, the driver was an innocent victim. I never met him, but wish now, even after 30 years, that I could shake his hand and tell him I never blamed him for what happened that day. I pray one day I will have that honor and we can embrace as brothers.
The pain of the loss was overwhelming in itself. We’d had deaths in the family before, but this was my generation, my own baby brother. It was my job to keep him safe and I wished him dead the last time I saw him.
The guilt I carried for many years was a crushing weight that I could not escape. I forgot what happiness and joy were for many years. The pain of the loss made me make some incredibly bad decisions. In an attempt to feel something – anything – I got involved with the first girl who would have me. Not because I liked her or was particularly attracted to her, but because she liked and was attracted to me. Looking back I have no idea what she saw in me.
But there was still a glimmer of hope alive in me.
Robin died in February and I truly met Jesus in November 1985. I found a comfort and a measure of peace I’d been missing and it allowed me to open, just a little, to the possibility of love and faith and hope in my life again.
I moved away from my hometown to live with the girl when I was 19 – and I still knew everything. The pain was overwhelming. Every day I felt I was drowning.
But hope for change remained through the pain.
Moving in together effectively killed the relationship. I think she and I would both agree now that it was the best decision we made. It was a very long time before I could be in the same room as her comfortably. Several years in fact.
But hope remained.
1999 was a bad year. My fiancee left me, I was fired from my job and my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer over the space of 8 weeks. The job and my fiancee I could handle, but the next three months watching my dad, who was also my closest friend and spiritual brother, wither and eventually die from a tumor in his brain was torture. I couldn’t talk to him about it. When we tried it was too much for either of us to deal with and the conversation halted.
On the day he died I held his hand as he lay in a “coma” following a cerebral hemorrhage caused by him striking his head falling out of a hospital bed trying to go to the bathroom during the night. He died the following day, ironically at the time the doctors had been expecting to discharge him to come home for a little while longer. I was holding his hand as he slipped from this world into the next.
Through my grief, hope still remained.
The hardest blow I’ve ever had was in 2011. A year earlier my wife had had surgery, a routine operation that had gone badly wrong in recovery with post operative infection nearly killing her. She had recovered her strength and returned to work. We were planning a baby.
The unthinkable happened.
She’d been unwell and so we had some routine tests done. They picked up an abnormality in her blood. One there’s no cure for. Thankfully it can be controlled and the progress contained to a certain extent, but it’s almost guaranteed that eventually this illness will take her life prematurely.
Despite this, hope remains.
My hope, our hope stems from the promises of God. Jeremiah 29:11 and the promise of hope and a future along with a myriad of other verses come to me regularly in my quiet times and gently fan the flames of hope into faith and fueled by the certainty of God’s love.
My experiences have allowed me to counsel others through times of grief and loss. Sickness and uncertainty.
What the enemy fired into my life to try to destroy my calling has fired my passion to speak boldly about the One who has supported me and brought me through the darkest times and the very shadow of death itself.
As I said, my full testimony of God’s provision to me would fill at least one book, and many would dismiss it as an impossibility that so much can go wrong in one 40 year life.
But God has supported and carried me through. He restores my soul and renews my strength. He shows me the hope I need to continue to hope and gives me the faith to see those hopes manifest.
If you’re reading this and you’re in pain, remember you’re not alone.
Jesus is right there.
And He’s offering you the gift of hope.